First up was the casemate WN37 at Asnelles which housed a 88mm A/T gun which was sited to fire along the beach toward Ver Sur Mer with the gun embrasure being protected from frontal fire and observation by a reinforced concrete screen.
Immediately out to sea from WN37 can be seen the remains of the Pheonix caissons of the eastern end of "Port Winston" the Mulberry Harbour. These are a site to behold with the huge structures still sitting in the sea in a massive curve around to Arromanches. The effort involved in planning and construction of the Mulberry Harbour was immense , and very ingenious.
The view from the next casemate along on the higher ground towards Arromanches - from WN38 really starts to give a sense of the scale
At Arromanches there are more remains on the beach of the floating piers carried by the Beetle pontoons
We pushed on inland to Crepon driving through narrow lanes with high walls - it seems not much has changed I could see the old films in my minds eye.
We were in search of the memorial to the Green Howards - my local regiment -well until it finally succumbed to amalgamation - now part of the Yorkshire Regiment. In the village of Crepon stands the life size statue of Company Sgt Major Stanley Hollis, VC, near the site of the second action he performed on D-Day for which he was later awarded his Victoria Cross.
Hollis has been called up in 1939, been evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940 - earning his sergeant stripes there.He fought on through North Africa, and was wounded in Sicily at Primasole Bridge.
For his actions on D Day he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The only one that day - and one of 5 in the Normandy campaign.
His VC citation reads
in Normandy on 6 June 1944 Company Sergeant-Major Hollis went with his company commander to investigate two German pill-boxes which had been by-passed as the company moved inland from the beaches. "Hollis instantly rushed straight at the pillbox, firing his Sten gun into the first pill-box, He jumped on top of the pillbox, re-charged his magazine, threw a grenade in through the door and fired his Sten gun into it, killing two Germans and taking the remainder prisoners.
Wherever the fighting was heaviest he appeared, displaying the utmost gallantry... It was largely through his heroism and resource that the Company's objectives were gained and casualties were not heavier. ....he saved the lives of many of his men.
the Imperial War Museum and the Green Howards Museum have a recording of CSM Hollis talking about war and D Day experiences - well worth a listen if you if get the chance.
Lastly we moved further inland to the higher ground at Ryes and visited the British Cemetery cemetery which was the site of the the first burials after D Day.